OWNER'S MANUAL

7 Reasons Why You Should See 'JOBS'

No, it's not going to help you be the next Steve Jobs. But Inc.'s Jeff Haden, who got a sneak peak of the film, says it's still worth your time.
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"JOBS," the much-hyped biopic about Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, opens in theaters nationwide next Friday.

Let me guess: You're thinking, "A movie about Steve Jobs sounds cool... but there's no way I want to see Ashton Kutcher play Jobs."

Actually, you do.

Here's why:

1. Kutcher is really good.

If you've seen as many "That 70s Show" episodes as I have you might assume you'll never get past the fact that Kelso is playing Steve Jobs--kind of like how, no matter what character he's playing, Keanu Reeves is always Keanu Reeves.

You know how Kevin Bacon always seems to disappear into the characters he plays? Within five minutes I forgot all about Ashton and just saw Steve.

2. Who cares if you already know the Apple story?

You knew "Apollo 13″ would make it back safely. You knew "Titanic" would sink. You knew Leonidas and his "300″ were doomed. Yet you still liked the movies because they brought those stories to life in an entertaining, dramatic, and sometimes moving way.

So does "JOBS."

3. Absolute historical accuracy is unimportant.

"JOBS" is not a documentary--it's a drama, and dramas tell stories. So don't quibble over whether a certain event happened exactly as portrayed. It doesn't matter.

Like the screenwriter and producer Michael Hirst told me, "On 'The Tudors' I went out of my way to talk to actors who came with a very settled view of how to play their characters, or worse yet had read about them in history books. 'The Tudors' was my version of Henry VIII, and not anyone else's."

No movie, no book, no anything can perfectly capture another person's life. (It's hard enough to accurately remember our own lives--even autobiographies are imperfect since our memories are colored by time, emotion, and wishful revision.)

"JOBS" is just one version of the life of Steve Jobs: pretty accurate, thoughtfully portrayed, but just one version. And that's okay.

4. But in some cases, it's totally accurate.

The Apple headquarters where a number of scenes were filmed are in fact the first Apple headquarters. The garage where Jobs and Wozniak build their first boards is the actual garage, and so is the house. Minor, yeah, but pretty cool.

5. It's bootstrapped!

Endgame Entertainment is an independent studio and the movie's budget was reportedly $8.5 million. By comparison, "Man of Steel" (the Superman movie) had a budget of $225 million.

Always root for the little guys, right?

6. In case you thought otherwise, "JOBS" will make sure you don't come away thinking Steve was God.

[Spoiler Alert] The brilliance of Steve is definitely on display, but so are less attractive qualities: "Splitting" $5,000 with Wozniak for an Atari by giving him $350; deciding to not to give stock options to a few of the first garage employees; his relationship (so to speak) with his daughter; his ability to berate and humiliate; and that's only to name a few.

Ultimately the story of Jobs, and Apple, is, where "warts and all" is concerned more "all" than "warts," but there are definitely warts. [End Spoiler]

7. You'll see your own journey.

Every start-up is different, yet every entrepreneur faces similar ups and downs, similar decisions, similar key moments, similar euphoria and heartbreak. The actual steps we take may be different, but in large part the journey is the same.

"JOBS" features a number of those moments. Finding your first customer. Finding your next customer. Finding an investor. Creating a corporate structure. Deciding who gets what ownership stake, who gets how many stock options, who needs to go and who should stay, deciding to bring in someone else to run the company when it appears to have outgrown its founders, how success (and the pressure to keep succeeding) can change a company's culture and mission.

You may not have created the Apple II, or the Mac, or the iPod (where the movie ends), but if you've created anything or if you've tried to build a company, you'll see slices of your own journey.

And you'll walk away realizing that Steve Jobs was a lot like you: focused and stubborn, practical and full of dreams, capable of incredible generosity and surprising pettiness, amazing yet flawed, brilliant yet at times incredibly thoughtless.

Just like all of us.

Hopefully you'll also walk away inspired to do whatever it is you dream of doing--not because if Steve could do it then anyone can, but because if Steve could do it, it is at least possible (hopefully) for you.

Want to hear more about the movie? Check out this Q&A with Ashton Kutcher about what it was like playing Steve.

Last updated: Aug 9, 2013

JEFF HADEN | Columnist

Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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